Treatment of Measles

Because measles is caused by a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. And, like most viral illnesses, a measles infection (in the majority of cases) can simply be left to run its course.

In most cases, measles treatment simply involves treatment of the symptoms, with paracetamol, regular rinsing of the mouth, and plenty of fluids to drink.

If you suspect that your child has measles then contact your child’s doctor. Close contact with your doctor will let you both monitor your child’s progress and will help identify the onset of any complications.

At home, it is important to regularly monitor the sufferer’s progress and to check for the onset of any complications before they have a chance to become serious or life threatening. The sufferer’s temperature should be monitored, and a written record kept of the readings, dates, and times. If the temperature climbs above 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius), then seek medical advice.

It is also beneficial and safe to use acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and other fever medications to bring down a fever.

WARNING DO NOT USE ASPIRIN. Unless instructed by your child’s doctor, don’t give aspirin to a child who has a viral illness since the use of aspirin in such cases has been associated with the development of Reye Syndrome a serious and potentially deadly encephalitis-like illness. Instead, acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be used safely.

As with most viral diseases, there is no specific antiviral therapy for measles, and the basic treatment consists of providing necessary supportive therapy to control the symptoms and make the sufferer as comfortable as possible. For example, encourage your child to drink clear fluids: water, fruit juice, tea, and lemonade.

Fluids help the body replace water lost in the heat and sweating of fever episodes. Fluids also reduce the chance of lung infections (pneumonia) because they reduce the viscosity of lung secretions, stopping them from clogging breathing passages.

A cool-mist vaporizer will also help relieve the cough and soothe the breathing passages. To avoid the formation of mould, clean the vaporizer each day. Hot-water and steam vaporizers should be avoided because they can cause accidental burns or scalds to children.

Vitamin A supplements are believed to improve the outcome of measles if the patient is deficient in vitamin A.

Children with measles should rest and avoid busy activities, TV, bright lights, and reading. It is usually safe for children to return to school about 7 to 10 days after the fever and rash have subsided.

If a person’s immune system is weakened by measles, then they will be more susceptible to other bacterial infections, especially in the ears and lungs. When this happens, antibiotics should be obtained to control the secondary bacterial infections.

People who have a measles rash and fever are infectious and they should minimize the risk contact with other people to reduce the chances of spreading the disease to others who may be susceptible to measles.

Even in developed countries, where vaccination programs are common, there are misguided and misinformed people who refuse vaccination for themselves and/or their children. To protect these people, and visitors to your area from other countries who have not been vaccinated, contact should be limited until a medical diagnosis has been established excluding measles, or the symptoms resolve completely, or 7-10 days after the fever and rash have subsided.

Persons who are potentially infectious with measles should especially avoid public transport (including commercial airlines) and crowded indoor areas.

Before visiting a clinic or hospital, people who suspect that they may have measles should call ahead before so that arrangements may be made to minimise the exposure of others to measles.

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